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Election officials to recommend face masks for June 23 primary

Voters in the June 23 primary will be encouraged to wear face masks, but officials cannot deny them a ballot if they choose to not wear one.

The Charlottesville Electoral Board discussed preliminary protocol for the June 23 primary during an electronic meeting on Tuesday.

Board chair Anne Hemenway noted that the city Democratic party was considering gathering and distributing face masks at the polls. She felt the masks should come from the registrar’s office, but stressed there likely won’t be enough for everyone.

Turnout is difficult for election officials to predict amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, which caused the primary to be delayed from June 5. Students from the University of Virginia also were sent home months ago, which could affect turnout.

Board member Jim Nix said more than 3,000 absentee and mail-in ballots have been distributed by the office.

“I think we need to be ready for 3,000 on election day or maybe even a little more,” he said.

Registrar Melissa Morton said that officials are awaiting more guidance from the Virginia Department of Elections on face masks, but will ask voters to come with one. So far, the state has said that officials cannot ask a voter to remove their mask to match their identification, nor can a voter be turned away if they are not wearing a mask.

Four candidates are seeking the Democratic nomination for Congress: R.D. Huffstetler, a Charlottesville entrepreneur who unsuccessfully ran for the same nomination in 2018; John Lesinski, a retired U.S. Marine Corps colonel who previously held local offices in Rappahannock County; U.S. Marine Corps veteran Claire Russo and Dr. Cameron Webb, a physician at the University of Virginia Medical Center.

Rep. Denver Riggleman, R-Nelson, is seeking his second two-year term for the district, which stretches from Fauquier County to the North Carolina border, and includes Charlottesville and Albemarle County.

He will be challenged at a convention by Bob Good, a former athletics official at Liberty University.

The Republican primary for Senate will feature Alissa Baldwin, a civics teacher in Nottoway County Public Schools; Daniel Gade, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel from Mount Vernon; and Thomas Speciale, a U.S. Army reservist from Woodbridge.

Whoever wins the primary will face U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner, D-Va., in November. Warner, a former Virginia governor and vice chair of the Senate intelligence committee, is seeking his third six-year term.


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